of Inola, Oklahoma
Inola sits on what was Creek Indian land, near the border between the Creek and Cherokee nations. It was named by William P. Ross, twice chief of the Cherokee Nation, based on the name of E-No-Lah, or Black Fox.
In 1889, the Kansas and Arkansas Valley Railway (later acquired by the Missouri Pacific Railway) built a line from Wagoner, Oklahoma through the Inola area on to the Kansas state line. The area was then just inside the northeastern corner of the Creek Nation in Indian Territory. A post office was established in March 1890 with the name Inola. It was closed in September 1890, but reopened in April 1891. By 1901, the population was estimated at 100 people. The Dawes Commission had the town platted in 1902, before the Creek allotment.
In 1906 M. J. Phillippe founded the Inola Register, the town's first newspaper. Later journals included the Inola News and the Inola Independent which is still active today. In 1910 the population stood at 405. In 1911 a bank, two hotels, eight general stores, a drugstore, a hardware store, a lumberyard, a blacksmith, a tinsmith, and a school system, with eleven teachers, functioned in the town. The community benefited from the area's agriculture, oil production, and coal mining. Strip mining of coal resources occurred prior to 1907 statehood and continued to be the prominent means of extraction. By 1920 the population had climbed to 498, but it declined to 398 in 1930. In 1940 the number of residents was 395. As the coal industry depreciated and a rural-to-urban shift developed after World War II, the population fell to 294 in 1950. In 1955 the town had three grocery stores, three general stores, a hardware store, a drugstore, an ice plant, two gas stations, and a garage.
Strip mines began producing coal nearby before statehood in 1907, causing a small boom in population. Inola's population was 405 in 1920. As the coal industry began to decline, so did the town's population. The 1930 census reported only 399 residents. The decline continued through the post World War II era, reaching 294 in 1950. A turnaround began in the 1950s as residents began commuting to Tulsa. Inola's population grew to 584 in 1960 and 984 in 1970. Growth continued with the 1980 census showing 1,550 residents, increasing to 1,589 in 2000 and 1,788 in 2010.
Turning Closure Into Opportunity
The Black Fox Nuclear Power Plant was a nuclear power plant proposed by the Public Service Company of Oklahoma (PSO) in May 1973. The facility was to be built approximately 3 miles (4.8 km) outside of Inola, Oklahoma, and encompass the use of two General Electric (GE) Boiling Water Reactors. While the new power plant would have generated significant economic growth and funding for better schools, many in the area as well as environmentally conscious outsiders were convinced it would be a dangerous to locate a nuclear power plant here. After nine years of court battles, the decision was abandoned in 1982 and no complex was built.
Although the property was left undeveloped for more than thirty years, it is now renamed as the Inola River/Rail Industrial Park, a 1,000+ acre AEP Quality Site, that is an excellent location for large-scale industrial users in need of onsite rail and river access and strong electrical infrastructure.
Today, AEP-PSO is aggressively marketing this property to potential major manufacturers.